The Hierophant V. Week 6

March 27th, 2024

The Hierophant V
Week 6
By Bonnie Tarantino

Professor Plots. When I think of The Hierophant, I think of the day I wandered into her English class during my freshman year at GWU. She was a sight to behold, with wild gray hair in a bun held by several pens and pencils. Sometimes, she would go to write down something in the middle of class and pull too many pens and pencils from her hair, causing it to all come tumbling down in a glorious cascade of Brillo. Her body was so thin it looked as if it almost floated formless. Hung from it were eccentric-colored clothes that looked as if she said, “I love this sweater.. Oh, I love this skirt!” with no consideration as to whether they matched in color, season, or pattern. This was bizarre, considering how brilliant she was at intellectually pulling things together. Cloudy, round, rimless glasses framed nervous eyes that seemed constantly in REM, dreaming up the perfect word. The Hierophant has access to the akashic field, is often well respected intellectually, and can be counted on as a library of wisdom.

Professor plots clearly spent some time in the drama department as she could recite anything that pleased her with intonations that made you lean forward in your seat. A master linguist, she would often hold her arm up over her head, pose frozen to organize herself, and with bony hand reach up and pull a word or phrase down from the sky to weave before me thoughts that I never before considered and have kept sacred since. My books, handouts, and notebooks from her classes were covered with linguistic jewels. One day, she shared that she took an intensive in JRR Tolkien when she was young. There, she learned the ancient language of the Elves, which she explained had its roots in Sindarian, whose origins are based on old Welch and Celtic dialects. The Hierophant has access to secret languages and the old ways.

“Ilya horyas men carë úvië ná i carë lúmenen yan me ná antaina.” She declared alarmingly one day, realizing that class was almost over and that she had way more to say, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.” Another day, after some disappointing political news, she paused looking out the window at the ominous clouds and spoke slow and solemnly, “Úvórima ná aiquen quetë namárië írë i tië morna querë imma….. Faithless is he who says farewell when the road darkens”. I imagined she kept written correspondence with friends from her Elfin days to keep alive the language in the hopes that it would never die. When the epic Lord Of The Rings series came out, I was delighted to hear the Elfin tongue and was sure Professor Plots and her friends celebrated that the precious secret language had taken root and would live on in chat rooms on the internet. I promise you this: when someone speaks to you in Elfin, you listen. Our class conversations took us well past the time allotted and often spilled out in the street, where she would stand with us until each student felt heard and received what they needed. The Hierophant is a meticulous mentor and a great translator of wisdom.

I took every possible class I could with Professor Plots, including a whole summer semester intensive on Tolkien, where we read The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings trilogy. We, too, practiced speaking Elfin and learned to cast spells, which turned out to be very similar to sitting in meditation and holding clear intentions. By the end of my sophomore fall semester, I had changed my major from International Relations to English with a secondary field of study in education. I would become an English teacher! Professor Plots was my first word smith, my first cosmic networker and the first person to say “Now Ms. Bonnie…It is apparent that you are no editor, but my dear, can you write.”

In one class, she held her hand up and pulled a piece of my writing down from the sky. It was the first time I heard my writing out loud and through someone else’s voice. She had memorized sections of it and brought it passionately to life. I was so enthralled I didn’t even realize it was my writing till 1/2 the way through. At that moment, the Professor opened a door for me. With her hands high over her gray wild crown, she bestowed a blessing, touched her staff down to the ground, and permitted me entrance to a world I had not considered. I could write and was worth being heard. I had something to say and could perhaps even enchant and weave my own spells. The Hierophant can open doors for you and give you access to worlds you didn’t even realize were there or needed for your journey. Once blessed by the Hierophant, your path is clear, and chances are very good that you will experience the immense fortune of the gifts you hold inside.

As an insatiable reader, I devoured the books Professor Plots assigned. In addition to rigorous reading and journaling assignments, she would hand out weekly photocopies that crossed reference every free event occurring in DC that week. Imagine how she did this without the internet. It would take hours each week to scan the free events sections of newspapers and city magazines and then cross reference them to literature, music, scientific breakthroughs, or famous historical moments. Then, she would type them out and photocopy them for all her classes. She did this each week! When these events were not free, she often obtained all sorts of free tickets and offered them to us at the end of class.

One week, Professor Plots listed on her handout the time and date of a free string quartet concert in a random hall on Georgetown’s campus. On a cold Friday night, they featured “The Wedding March” along with drama students reciting lines from Shakespeare’s play. “The Wedding March” by Felix Mendelssohn is famous for ushering people down the aisle in white wedding dresses, but it was initially written in 1943 for a production of Shakespeare’s “A Mid-Summer Night Dream.” Wrapped in my winter coat, I became enchanted by the combination of two violins, one viola, and one cello. At one point, an obo joined in for a separate set, and its wistful, sweet sound moved me to tears. Professor Plots could be seen a few rows ahead, swaying side to side, her eyes closed in joy. I loved that I was now part of her secret world of wonder, where words met music, and a winter night became a midsummer’s night dream. The Hierophant is very resourceful and a master networker who can take you into higher realms of awareness, knowledge,and mastery.

Years later, and in contrast, I was to meet my nemesis during the last semester of my MFA in Creative Writing. After securing a full-time high school English position in a catholic co-ed high school in Yonkers, NY (which borders the Bronx), I entered night school to explore my love of writing. Four semesters whizzed by with the highest grades I had ever maintained and many opportunities to read my writing publicly. My last semester was almost entirely devoted to writing my final thesis, which was a novella. For this, I chose to write a creative story about my younger sister’s unconventional life following The Grateful Dead and selling burritos along with various illegal substances out of her Volkswagen bus in The Dead’s bohemian parking lot. For some random reason, I was assigned as my mentor for this project, the Dean of the program. Often, the Hierophant is a person with high academic status in a higher academic institution or in the more theological branches of a religious order.

Our very first meeting was icy at best. In contrast to Professor Plot’s pallets of color, this woman was all business with an overall sausage look. Her too-tight black skirt rolled over at the waist dismissingly as if trying to fight its way off. Her white buttoned-up silk blouse covered large lumpy breasts, which took turns swallowing chunky old money pearls. Her language was flat and barren, void of anything whimsical and animated. She stayed behind her desk each time we met and made sure I knew exactly how much time she did not have. She hated my first pitch and hated even more my first draft. When my first few chapters came back, they looked brutally raped and pillaged like the landscape of the Fangorn Forest in Tolkien’s R Two Towers. In my favorite scene in the trilogy’s second book, the Ents, or guardians of the trees, tear themselves up from scorched roots and begin to take giant steps toward their revenge, turning themselves into massive killing warriors to save their land and Middle Earth. My story was chopped down at its trunk and struggled against her wicked red penned wand. It gasped for breath at every long red bleeding strike. In the end, the story was reduced to a smoking piece with pages and pages of her edits; my voice muffled, my roots cast away in newfound dungeons of shame and self-doubt. I had to fight to pass this final class, and the issue went all the way to the President’s desk to decide my fate. A meeting was held. I was given a new mentor. When I graduated, I walked for my diploma and then burned the manuscript to the ground. The hierophant can use its power to destroy a person’s integrity and deny them access to higher realms of knowledge.

But that was not all. The Dean took it further. She called the high school principal where I worked and told him I had no right to teach English. She claimed she was concerned about the academic well-being of my students. Little did she know that this principal and I spoke our own version of Elfin. We spoke the same language of love. The principal was a Hierophant in his own right and actually a priest. We loved our ki. This principal knew more than anyone about the spells I had cast, the enchantment of my classroom, and the budding landscape of minds that connected with me. My class was a giant adventure where I often had no idea what would happen next. Following Professor Plots curriculum, I took them whale watching, hiking to waterfalls and roamed with open journals in and out of art galleries in Soho. Capitalizing on my graffiti artist who loved to write on the desk, we turned my classroom into an art gallery with the main characters of McBeth, Romeo and Julia, and Mid Summer Night Dream in graffiti all over the desks. Other English classes came for little field trips to visit. My kids also found their gifts in the darkroom I resurrected, where I taught them how to develop film. Watching the face of someone you secretly have a crush on appear in the dark out of nowhere is pure magic to experience. On big open tables in the lunchroom, we laid out yearbook pages and we published a literary journal featuring poems not only from the romantics but also from our closet wrappers. We had open mike night where students read directly from their journals, breaking down in awe even the staunches of teachers. During all this, I knew full well that I was awful at editing papers. I was unabashedly outright and honest about it to everyone. Instead, I rallied students and even kind co-workers to help me catch these errors for the critical and dreaded term papers. Knowing full well I could/would not teach to a test, the principal gave me students who were often on the fringe, the ones not planning on going to college, the ones who were trying not to get pregnant, the ones just trying to finish high school. And guess what? All of my students not only graduated, they learned to wield a pen; they learned to hear the inner voice that whispered “I know,” and they were granted full access to their own personal kingdom of gifts. Most of them even went on to college. Parents cried at my teacher conferences because I loved their kids and saw their potential. The Dean was wrong. Professor Plots has taught me not only how to wait for the sky to drop down the perfect words but also how to wait it out for the perfection in people. Like the wizard Gandalf tells Bilbo in The Hobbit, “There is always more about you than anyone expects!” I love being the one to wait it out for the “more.” The hierophant has that kind of insight. The hierophant can see the potential in people and orchestrate experiences that activate passion and great focus. The hierophant can see the potential in people and orchestrate experiences to activate passion and focus.

All this perplexed the Dean. I was valued and even loved. But something tragic came out of this. She got to me. I stopped writing. She lifted her staff and, with it, closed a massive door to a kingdom I once roamed freely. Her curse held. You are stupid. You are incapable; You have no place among the academics. You cannot spell. You cannot for the life of you see that is “your,” not “you.” You will forever flip your vowels and forget to check your tense. You are not worth being heard. And with this curse, I eventually quit teaching high school and remained partially gagged for over 20 years. My pen no longer a wand, the blank page no longer a portal to a realm. The classroom only something that I would only teach reiki and yoga in. The Hierophant has the power to have devastating and lifelong effects on people. Often the Hierophant is a person high up in a religious order who can cast a final judgment over someone, banish them, and even manipulate and demand that the community conform and unquestionably accept the decision,

So, how did this spell finally break? Well, stay tuned for next week’s essay featuring “The Lovers.”

(As an aside, I tracked down Professor Plot’s email and found an image or two of her. Rather than the wild character, I remember her hair is relatively straight, and her clothes match perfectly. I may have described her as more colorful than I remember. I also found a lovely picture of her on top of a mountain with a walking stick in her hand. This is proof enough for me that she may know Gandalf. As she is retired now, I hope she has finally wandered into the Hobbit’s Shire for cram and tea and speaks fluent Elfin. I sent her an email to thank her and invite her to lunch. We will see what adventure awaits!)

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